BD athlete Tommy Caldwell reports on his recent efforts to make the first ascent of El Capitan's hardest free climb
Black Diamond athlete Tommy Caldwell has devoted a large chunk of the last three years to attempting a futuristic free climb on Yosemite's El Capitan that is peppered with numerous 5.14 to 5.14+ pitches, which, when free climbed in a single-push, would place it as unquestionably the hardest, most demanding big wall free climb ever. He's in the Valley right now, gearing up for a ground-up free push starting next week and supported by his wife, Becca, and his 61-year-old father, Mike. Proud!
Tommy's main partner for the project the last couple of seasons, fellow BD athlete Kevin Jorgeson, is out of the mix after injuring his ankle on a massive eight-foot horizontal dyno (featured in this video, at 1:18).
Tommy sent us the following email and photo last week (from his portaledge bivy on the wall!) before Jorgeson was injured, and, as you'll read below, he foreshadows the injury, mentioning going up to try the dyno the next day with Jorgeson (the day that, it turns out, Jorgeson injures his ankle, putting him off the project for the season).
To read a past essay Tommy wrote for Black Diamond in 2010 about the monumental effort to free climb the route, as well as see some sweet pics taken by Tim Kemple (including one of the eight-foot dyno), click here.
Good luck with the redpoint push, Tommy! Get it done!
From: Tommy Caldwell
Subject: Life on the wall
Date: October 20, 2011 10:39:48 AM MDT
So far, it’s been a pretty life directing experience. Attempting a route of this magnitude is bound to be, I guess that's why I chose it in the first place. This is season four with Kevin, and before that I spent a few months spread over two years swinging around and finding the line on my own. It’s been an exciting journey, but somehow the excitement is still building.
This morning I am sitting in our portaledge in the middle of one of the blankest sections of wall I have ever seen. 1200 feet off the ground. The penetrating California sun is making the temps somewhere over 95 degrees, so we have mounted our sleeping bags on the side of the ledge as sun shades. This season, El Cap has exploded with free climbers. As we sit here, we watch Sean and Nico forging up a new route to the right of the Zodiac in their typical and very bold ground-up style. We were woken up today by a terrifying scream coming from that direction probably due to a big fall. To the right of them we can see Sonnie Trotter and Will Stanhope working the infamous A1 beauty pitch on The Prophet. And that's just on the right side. Eighty percent of the El Cap free climbing is on the left side. I know the Salathé wall has already been free climbed three times this year. And someone is trying to establish a free variation to the Heart route. Add in the normal train of people on the Freerider and El Cap is starting to look like a real free climbing crag. I love it!
For Kevin and I, it has been about picking up where we left off last year. We went up and worked out the pitches that shut us down before. Tonight we go back to the 8-foot sideways dyno that Kevin seems to do so easily but gives me endless trouble. If we manage those parts we will revisit the bottom part of the route then go for a ground-up push. I can’t wait to see what happens.